1 Peter 3:13-18, "And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing. For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:"
Regardless of whether or not a man is a Christian, we will all suffer in this life. If it is necessary and inevitable that we suffer, why not suffer for doing what is good? Why suffer for doing evil?
Yesterday I saw in the news that an up and coming famous football player was convicted of first degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole. This man is only in his twenties. He has not even gotten to the age of thirty yet and his life is basically over with. There is no more hope for him. He will suffer the rest of his life for the crime of murder. The way of the transgressor is hard.
Yet it is also difficult for the Christian to live in this world system. Jesus told his followers very plainly they would suffer. We see the example of the apostle Paul suffering for the gospel throughout his ministry and he speaks of this often in his letters. 2 Timothy 3:12, "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution".
Peter asks the question here: Who would harm you if you do what is right? And yet he immediately concedes this is exactly what happens. It happened to the Lord Jesus. It happened to all of the early church and Christians. It happens today all over the world where Christians are murdered for their faith in Jesus.
In situations where we are called to suffer, often we will find there is a silver lining in that the situation will afford us an opportunity to share our testimony of faith, even to those who are persecuting us. I remember reading the testimony of Richard Wurmbrand who suffered as a Christian under the communists after World War 2. He was in prison for many years because of his faith and Christian ministry. As a result, he had many opportunities to witness to his persecutors. He describes the supernatural love from God that can and does fill the heart of Christians when they suffer. God enables them to forgive and even to love their enemies.
Christ Jesus is our example of suffering. If the Lord did not attempt to escape the path of suffering, why are we so quick to think we will not face suffering? Suffering does not mean that you are less of a Christian or that something is wrong with your faith. Many times, in fact, it means the opposite, that God is testing your faith so that it can grow and bring honor and glory to the Name of Jesus.